Let People Be Themselves
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”— John 13: 34-35, NIV
The kind of love Jesus proposed was radical, as were His actions. He said this to His disciples right after washing their feet. He taught His disciples to love and accept people, dirty feet and all.
How freeing this kind of love is! We are set free to obey Jesus with abandon, because we are not hindered or inhibited by stopping to scrutinize and judge people. I love what Oswald Chambers wrote: “Jesus says regarding judging…Don’t.” 1
To live a life of godly love, we need to let people be themselves. We love them, and let God do His work in their lives.
“If you want to be free, set others free,” says Mike Mason. “Set people free to complicate your life, embarrass you, affront your standards, step on your toes. Don’t be a doormat, but neither be scandalized when people act human. The more you reel others in and try to squeeze them into your mold, the less you’ll enjoy them. To love people is to enjoy them truly, warts and all. Give everyone the freedom to be imperfect. The American slaves were not set free because they were jolly good fellows, but because they were human beings.” 2
Jesus certainly did not set us free because we are such models of human perfection.
“While we were still sinners,” He died for us (Romans 5:8). His love transcends our annoying imperfections. His love is what fixes our brokenness, turns us from sin, and makes us beautiful in His sight.
We all know people who bother us – either because they really are in sin and need help, or because they just don’t think and act like us or meet our standards. Jesus didn’t give us the option of ignoring them or judging them.
He simply commanded, “Love one another.”
Oswald Chambers, Might Upmost for His Highest Journal(Discovery House Publishers, 1935,1963).
Mike Mason, Practicing the Presence of People (Colorado, Waterbrook Press, 1999), p. 187.